In memory of
John Wells Smith
John Wells Smith, one of the last members of "The Greatest Generation" went to be with his Lord on October 13, 2016. John was born in Bonham, Texas on December 3, 1921 to Bland and Mary Savannah "Mamie" Smith. He was a 5th generation Texan with his earliest relatives arriving in Bonham in the early 1800s when Texas was still a Republic. The Smith family had a home in the city but also a farm in the country where his father taught him to hunt and fish, activities he enjoyed throughout his life. John graduated a semester early from Texas A&M in January 1943 so he could join the war effort as a 2 Lt. in the Army. He was assigned as a forward artillery observer with the 36th Division, 132nd Field Artillery. After landing in Naples, Italy and helping push the Germans north of Rome, his unit made a beach landing near St. Raphael, France. This was the beginning of 228 days of continuous combat as his unit moved ever forward toward Germany. At Eloyes France, his Company was caught in the open by two German tanks, mortar and machine gun fire. He and his radio operator crawled across an open field under heavy fire to gain an observation position from which he could call in friendly fire. Although ordered to withdraw, he remained in position, directing fire so his unit could retreat. He was later recognized for gallantry in combat and awarded two Silver Stars, the third highest combat medal behind the Medal of Honor and the Distinguished Service Cross. After the war he returned to Bonham and met the love of his life, Adlyn Harris. They were married on 27 June, 1947 and celebrated their 69th wedding anniversary this year. He worked for Texas Power and Light Company, starting as a chief clerk and working his way to East Texas Division Manager in Tyler, Texas, a position he held until he retired in 1983. Over the years he was involved in many civic activities including United Way, YMCA, Boy Scouts, Director of Tyler Rotary Club, East Texas Hospital Foundation, Tyler Chamber of Commerce and Meals on Wheels. He enjoyed associations with the Smith County A&M Club, Tyler Tennis Club and Willow Brook Country Club. In retirement he was on the First Southwest Savings and Loan Board of Directors. John was a member of First Christian Church Tyler for 50+ years and was active on many committees/boards and served as an Elder. As a young man he worked hard to provide for his family, but always put them first. Vacations, holidays, trips to grandparents and participation in children's activities filled his time. In his later years when his work was done, he was able to relax and enjoy life with his Coffee Clutch, tennis partners, home town friends and of course his family. He had a great sense of humor and was often playing practical jokes. He was also known as the family poet laureate and offered clever rhyming toasts for most family occasions. John was a loving husband and father in whose home his children and grandchildren shared many joyous and laughter filled occasions. As a father he led by example, making it clear the way in which his children should go. As a husband he honored and cherished his wife Adlyn and was never known to speak an unkind or harsh word to her. SURVIVORS: Wife Adlyn Smith, son William Bland Smith and wife Lisa, daughter Emily Benton and husband Ed, daughter Holley Webb and husband David; 9 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren. MEMORIALS: In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the First Christian Church, 4202 S. Broadway Tyler, TX 75701 or to the charity of your choice. CELEBRATION OF LIFE: 2 p.m., Tuesday, October 18, 2016 at the First Christian Church, Tyler, under the direction of Jackson's Burks Walker Tippit Funeral Home. To view online please go to www.burkswalkertippit.com
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